20 October 2013
As austerity hits, the right to protest has come under attack by governments seeking to undercut opposition to cuts, growing inequalities and attacks on public services. Groups like UK Uncut, and environmental & anti-racist campaigners have been targeted and spied on. Students protesting against fees were kettled and beaten. Anti-fascists standing up to the EDL and BNP have faced police violence and victimisation. All of this has happened alongside fresh attacks on trade union rights.
From Turkey, to Brazil, Greece and Egypt we see protesters having to face down repression on an ever-greater scale.
There is also increased harassment of black and working class communities. From Stop and Search laws to the continued scandal of deaths in custody, it is clear that 14 years on from the MacPherson Report institutional racism remains rife.
Hillsborough, the Murdoch hacking scandal and the deaths of Mark Duggan and Smiley Culture revealed the “untouchable” status that powerful institutions have acquired. Meanwhile the government continues to remove access to legal aid for those seeking justice.
These attacks have given rise to many powerful campaigns bringing together all different kinds of campaigners. This solidarity helped to ensure victimised student Alfie Meadows, almost killed by police, was unanimously acquitted of protest related charges after a two-year battle.
This year’s conference will provide a forum to discuss how we can strengthen resistance.
It will take place in an autumn which will see further fresh public inquiries and inquests into police corruption and deaths in custody and in the context of continued struggles against government cuts and racism.
It will look at how protest movements have confronted these attacks in the past and how we can organise in the future. We’ll also have practical workshops to inform people of their rights and suggest ways to run effective defence & justice campaigns.
Workshops and Forums include: Austerity & the law – the changing face of policing; The fight to save legal aid; Deaths in custody -who polices the police?; Protest, Stop and search and the law -Know your rights; The politics of Prisons; Blacklisting and the anti-union laws – defending workers rights; Riots-a brief history; Defending the right to protest on campus; Resisting police racism after Macphearson; How to run an effective defence campaign; When fear changes sides- the power of protest today.